May 9th. – Instruction 9. Expectation of the Birth of Christ.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
May 9th. – Instruction 9. Expectation of the Birth of Christ.
“Mary abode with Elizabeth about three months, and she returned to her own house.” – St. Luke i. 56.
The evangelist St. Luke informs us that Mary remained with her cousin St. Elizabeth about three months, and performed for her those duties which only tender charity and affectionate devotion can perform. The words which these two holy women exchanged at their meeting in Judea were words of mutual congratulations, but they tell us plainly enough what must have been their conversations and pious meditations during Mary’s visitation. If, as St. John tells us, “the divine Word is the light of every man coming into this world,” what must have been the brightness which shone round about the happy inhabitants in the home of Zachary? The prophetic words of Elizabeth, the canticle of Mary, the inspired words of Zachary, the joy of the Holy Precursor in the womb of his mother – are not all these circumstances as so many rays from the light of the Incarnate Word?
According to tradition, Mary assisted at the birth of St. John the Baptist. After she had saluted him as the “Prophet of the Most High,” she returned to Nazareth, there to await the birth of the Messias, Whom she carried in her chaste womb. So important is this fact in the eyes of the Church that she has consecrated a festival day for the Expectation.
She now proposes for our meditation the desire of Mary for our salvation, her devotion in the service of Jesus, and the dispositions which she brings to His coming.
I. The desire of Mary for our salvation. – After having been instructed by the angel in the ineffable mystery, Mary knew that she carried in her virginal womb the Eternal Word of God. “Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David, His father, and He shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end. And, therefore, the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (St. Luke i. 31, 32). He Whom she had conceived, and to Whom she will give birth, will be called Jesus, that is to say, Saviour. Nothing, therefore, is wanting for the complete happiness of Mary. Elizabeth may truly proclaim her “blessed amongst all the women of the earth,” since she alone possesses Him Whom the angels contemplate and adore. But the Blessed Virgin knew also that the fruit of her womb was the Desired of all nations and the Salvation of the world. If the Incarnate Word had chosen Mary for His Mother, it was for us and for our salvation. Through love for men she desires His birth, and would hasten it by her prayers. In her solitude at Nazareth she repeats the prayer of the prophet, “Drop down dew, ye heavens, and let the clouds rain the Just.” Before the birth of Jesus, Mary shows herself a mother. She longs to be our Mother in the order of grace, by giving us Him Who is the source and principle of grace. Mary, by her example, teaches us to forego even spiritual consolations to secure the salvation of our neighbor.
2. Her devotion in the service of Jesus. – Unquestionably, the dearest wish of Mary’s heart was to devote herself entirely to the service of Jesus, and to consecrate to Him all the care of her maternal love. She longed to look upon the most beautiful of the children of men, to press Him to her heart, to cover Him with kisses, to nourish Him at her breast, to adore Him in His crib – in a word, to live only for Him. Is it not the dream of happiness for the young mother to see the day when she can caress her own cherished child? What joy for her heart to hear His first wailings and behold His first smile! These tender and deep emotions are not, however, without some bitterness, since mothers according to the flesh must suffer the malediction pronounced against our first mother: “Thou shalt bring forth in sorrow.” Mary, however, was not included in this malediction, because of her immaculate conception and the privilege attached to her divine maternity. Her childbirth is an ecstasy of supernatural love, and her first act toward her divine Infant is an act of profound adoration. We, too, like Mary, should desire to render to Jesus the real and effective service of our works. If we cannot exercise our devotion for His adorable person, we can show our affection for those who represent Him. Our blessed Saviour assures us that whatsoever we do for the least of His little ones, He will regard it as having been done for Himself.
3. Dispositions of Mary at the birth of Christ. – We can easily understand what were the admirable dispositions of Mary whilst awaiting the birth of Christ. We can almost hear her literally repeat the words of St. Paul, “I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. ii. 20). Her life is passed in the constant exercise of those virtues of which Jesus will one day be the example. Mary is constantly engaged in the study of the prophetic books. There she reads in detail the future conduct of her divine Son, and His life as foretold by the prophets is the subject of her daily meditations. It is true of her now, as later on: “Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.” Jesus was the rule of her thoughts, her desires, her actions. He was her Guide in all her relations with God and her neighbor.
The dispositions which we find in Mary’s life should be evident in ours also. Even as she conformed to her divine Son by the practice of all the virtues and by daily increasing in perfection, so also should we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, strive to reproduce His life in our own. The Christian, says a holy father, is another Christ. The labor of our whole life should be to imitate Christ, to reproduce in ourselves a copy like to the model He has given us, that we may merit at length to be associated with Him in glory.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
Of supporting Injuries, and who is proved to be truly patient.
O Jesus! be our model. Thou hast taught us to say to God: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. That is what we ask every day, what we promise every day. Grant that our prayer may be fulfilled. Amen. – Thomas à Kempis – Imitation of Christ Bk III, Ch XIX prayer.
May Devotion: The Blessed Virgin Mary
Virtues to practice: Meekness, purity, the spirit of poverty
O holy Mary, my Mistress, into thy blessed trust and special keeping, into the bosom of thy tender mercy, this day, every day of my life and at the hour of my death, I commend my soul and body; to thee I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life, that through thy most holy intercession and thy merits, all my actions may be ordered and disposed according to thy will and that of thy divine Son. Amen (St. Aloysius Gonzaga)
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins and Mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful; O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
(For either of the above prayers: An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this prayer.)
The faithful who during the month of May take part in public exercises in honor of the B.V.M. may gain: An indulgence of 7 years on any day of the month; a plenary indulgence if they assist at the exercises on at least 10 days, and moreover, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, and pray for the Holy Father’s intentions.
Those who perform their devotions privately during the aforesaid month are granted: an indulgence of 5 years once on any day of the month; a plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if they perform these devotions every day during the month; but where public exercises are held, this indulgence is granted only to those who are lawfully hindered from taking part in the same.
Raise your Voices, Vales and Mountains
Raise your voices, vales and mountains,
Flow’ry meadows, streams and fountains,
Praise, O praise the loveliest Maiden
The Creator ever made.
Murm’ring brooks your tribute bringing,
Little birds with joyful singing,
Come with mirthful praises laden
To your Queen be homage paid. (ref.)
Like a sun with splendor glowing,
Gleams thy heart with love o’erflowing,
Like the moon in starry heaven
Shines thy peerless purity.
Like the rose and lily blooming,
Sweetly heav’n and earth perfuming
Stainless, spotless thou appearest:
Queenly beauty graces thee.
But to God, in Whom thou livest,
Sweeter joy and praise thou givest,
When, to Him in beauty nearest,
Yet so humble thou canst be.
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